When we are living with depression, it can be hard for loved ones to know how to help. They may want to show support and let us know they care, but feel unsure about how best to do this.
We don’t need people to make grand gestures, but small acts of kindness can make a big difference. And there are lots of little ways our loved ones can help us.
Let us know you appreciate us. We often feel like we annoy people or get in the way. Let us know that you appreciate having us around.
Ask Us If There’s Anything You Can Do
There are times when we have no idea what will help. But there are also times when there are specific things that we need help with. Even if there’s nothing we need help with, asking us if there’s anything you can do reminds us that you’re there and that you care.
Depression can cause us to do or say things that we might not normally do or say. We are sometimes ashamed of how depression makes us act. We need you to try and avoid judging us for the way depression causes us to be.
Recovering from depression takes time. It can take a lot of hard work. Things can seem like they’re improving for a bit, and then might feel like they’re going backwards again. We are doing the best we can so try and be patient with us.
Celebrate Our Achievements
Sometimes, seemingly little things can be a major achievement. If you spend a lot of time with us, you will know which things we find difficult. Recognising when we manage something that we’ve been struggling with can be really encouraging.
Check In With Us
It can be hard for us to initiate contact. We feel like a nuisance. It doesn’t seem right for us to ask for help. We don’t want to bother people. Checking in with us every now and again reminds us that you’re there for us. It helps to stop us feeling like a nuisance for contacting you all the time.
If you have a dog, you could invite us along for a dog walk. Pets can be great therapy. Being outside and doing some light exercise can be helpful, too. A dog walk can also be a chance to talk in a low-pressured environment, too.
Don’t Try And Fix It
We don’t necessarily want you to fix anything. Sometimes there isn’t really a fix. We might just need time. We might need medical support. Trying to ‘fix’ things can feel stressful. Sometimes we just want you to be there.
Do Something Fun
Depression can sap the joy out of everything. Doing something fun can provide some light relief from the monotony of depression. It could be anything – watching a funny film, playing mini golf, finding a 1p machine to play on. Anything at all that gives us a bit of a break from our head.
Help Us To See The Good Things In Our Life
Depression can make everything feel really rubbish. It can feel like everything is horrible. Sometimes it can feel like we have nothing to live for. Helping us to see the good aspects of our life or the things we have to live for can help us to keep going.
Not everyone loves hugs, but for hug-lovers, regular hugs can be incredibly comforting. They can help us to feel warm and loved. They can help us feel a little stronger. If we don’t love physical hugs, or we don’t live close enough to do you to be huggable, you could send us a hug in a box.
Keep Us Company
Sometimes we might not want to talk but it can be nice to have some company. Even something as simple as sitting with us to watch TV can be a non-pressurised way of helping us to feel less alone.
Learn About Depression
It can be hard for us to explain what’s going on. Trying to learn a bit about depression can help you to understand where we’re coming from and a bit about what we’re experiencing.
Let Us Know It’s Okay To Feel As We Do
At times feel we feel ashamed of our emotions, or feel as though we shouldn’t have certain feelings. Letting us know that our feelings are valid and are okay can be a comforting relief.
Let Us Know That We’re Enough
Depression can feed us lots of lies. It can tell us that we’re not enough. Not good enough. Not successful enough. Reminding us that we are more than enough can be comforting.
Let Us Rant
At times, there’s nothing better than a good rant. Giving us the space to have a good rant can be really therapeutic.
Listen. But Don’t Force Us To Talk.
Sometimes we want to talk. Sometimes we don’t. Giving us the space and time to talk can help us to process things and feel heard. But forcing us to talk can be stressful, sometimes we don’t have any words, or don’t want to talk about anything.
Meeting Up For Coffee
Inviting us out to a quiet café can get us out of the house and give us a chance to chat to you.
Morning Mugs Of Tea
Bringing us a mug of tea on a morning can be a lovely way to start the day. Mornings can be especially difficult when we have depression because we have the whole day to get through. Having something like a mug of tea to look forward to can make them feel a little easier.
Remind Us Of Our Strength
There are times when we think depression might win. We feel worn down. We are exhausted. Reminding us that we are strong and that we can beat depression can help us to power on for a little longer.
Remind Us Of Our Talents
Depression can steal our identity. It can steal our self-confidence. It can leave us feeling useless and hopeless. Reminding us of our talents can remind us of who we are. It reminds us that we have a lot going for us, it’s just a little hidden right now.
Remind Us That This Is An Illness
We can often feel like we are broken, or like everything is our fault. Remind us that this is an illness, not our personality or a fault in our character. Remind us that it is an illness, not our fault. These reminders can be really comforting and reassuring.
Remind Us That We’re Loved
When we’re really struggling, it can be hard to remember that we’re loved. Reminding us, either by a text or a call, or even a little note poked under our bedroom door can make a big difference.
Remind Us That You’re There
When the depression fog comes down it can be hard to remember that we have loved ones around us. It can feel very isolating. Reminding us that you’re there and that you care can help to lift the loneliness a little bit.
Little gestures can bring a smile to our face. Bringing some cake to our desk. Sticking a funny photo in our lunch box. Making us our tea in our favourite mug. Thoughtful little gestures can remind us that you’re thinking of us and can bring a smile to our face.
Encouraging post – like a card, or letter, or a gift – be a wonderful surprise. On top of being lovely to receive, we can pop it somewhere to remind us that people care. A card doesn’t need to come through the post, it could be popped under our bedroom door or left on our desk for us. For gift inspiration, check out our shop.
The odd text can remind us that you’re there and help us to feel less alone. We might not reply very quickly depending on how well our brains are working. But knowing that someone is thinking of us can help us to feel less alone.
Understand That It Fluctuates
Depression can fluctuate. Some days are better than others. If we manage something one day, it doesn’t mean that we will be able to manage the same thing the following day.
Validate Our Feelings
There are times when we really don’t want to hear ‘everything happens for a reason’. We just want you to recognise that actually things are pretty rubbish right now. Having someone say ‘that does sound really hard’ or ‘that does sound pretty rubbish’ can be really comforting and reassuring.
Take Care Of Yourself
In order to take care of others, we need to be well cared for ourselves. Helping a loved one who is experiencing depression can be really hard. It’s important to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.
For more advice on helping a loved one who is unwell, check out our guide to Supporting Someone with Depression – it’s free.
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